Over the last couple of days I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and a lot of reflecting about where I currently am as a writer, what was important to me when I started writing and what I want to do from here out.
Two things occurred to me:
- I wasn’t writing, and
- I wasn’t happy about that fact.
It was a bit like going off on a safari full of enthusiasm for the thrill and adventure, then getting lost, only to discover you are going around and around in circles, and really just wanted to go home.
Small signs started to appear this week to confirm I was lost (because there is nothing like denying and making excuses to legitimise the fact you are not writing).
There had been niggling jealousy and envy of those around me who continue to produce. There was the contemplation of how my lovely friend (and talented writer) Em Newman manages to fit the demands of family, work and writing. There was a throw away piece of advice (from me) in a virtual interview a few weeks ago saying, you had to make writing a priority and then that very line being picked up by the fabulous Jen Brubacher (who continues to read and comment here although there’s not much to read or comment on, or the fact I’ve become an infrequent reader at her blog). There was a tweet from one of my followers with reference to why we can’t treat ourselves like clients (ie. bend over backwards to get it done, stop the world type of behaviour we flick into when we’re working on someone else’s project) Then there was Tony Noland’s wonderful essay earlier this week “Rule #1 – You Must Write” – which was like the nail in the coffin of the self delusion.
You must write.
I must write.
And I decided I didn’t want to be lost, stuck out in the wilderness, on the fringe any more. I wanted to go home.
But where is ‘home’ for me as a writer?
Home is what I was doing when I first decided I wanted to write seriously. It was the foundation from which all other great things were built on (Reclaim Sex After Birth, Chinese Whisperings and eMergent Publishing)
There were four things which were the cornerstone of those early times:
- I wrote [Fiction] Friday every week – usually as part of my Friday night ritual. It was getting blood on the page, it got me connected in with my foundation group of writing friends (many of which have continued on the journey with me in new and innovative ways), it got my writing out there – read and critiqued. But more so, it gave me insight into how my writing worked… that I needed a prompt to get and keep writing.
- I wrote Captain Juan and was always itching for the next person to write so I could have my go again. It was my ‘writer’s candy’ or ‘comfort writing’… despite whatever else was going on… there was always Captain Juan.
- I blogged – almost every day and my blog was a lifeline to other writers who were also on the journey. It challenged me, supported me and spurred me onto greater heights. It was what got me connect in, before there was Facebook and Twitter.
- I made reading a priority for the first time in my life.
Three years on I find weekly writing has slipped to something which is a ‘treat’ every now and again, when the time opens up (rather than opening up the time to write). I think I have written one new episode of Captain Juan (the Christmas special) in the past year and every day there is a dull ache, like an amputated limb. Blogging? What blogging? Unless there is some new piece of writing to put up (see back to the start of this paragraph) the blog lies idle and forgotten. My connection to the rest of my writerly folk is now made through Facebook and Twitter, which quite frankly, while convenient is just not the same soul food of connection or insight. And reading… well it is still there, though has been teetering lately into falling the way everything else has gone.
This month, as I was setting my goals, I developed a theme for the month, ‘Back to Basics’. I want to go back to what was important and what kept me nourished when I first started out.
This month writing will be a priority.
And the other little piece of wisdom which came to me this week. Life isn’t a balancing act – so let’s can the image of scales, or tightropes, of seesaws and the likes. It is not about balancing at all.
Life is a jigsaw and it is about the investment in making the pieces fit. Sometimes they pieces fit easily – especially when they’re very different… but when you’ve got 100 pieces of blue sky.. the task takes on new meaning. And when your work is editing and publishing and writing… the ability to make them all fit, because they look so similar, can be a greater challenge. It is easier to take the pieces which belong to others and make them a priority to have fitted into the bigger picture and leave your pieces behind.
But no one ends up being happy – least of you all, when you relegate yourself to the poor third cousin.
So over the next month – expect more blogging and a new look blog, more fiction and some exciting news about Captain Juan.